15 Jun 2014

Does Happiness Have to be so Elusive? Happiness and EQ

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“Happiness is the ability to enjoy your life, to enjoy yourself and others and to have fun” (EQ Edge, 217).  Happiness is a barometer of your overall emotional intelligence and functioning.  Happy people tend to have more friends, have higher energy for life interests and demands in addition to outliving those who are unhappy.

Thousands of articles and books have been written on this subject.  WE ALL want to be happy.  Where is happiness found?   Here is a list of “Seven Things Remarkably Happy People Do Often,” adapted from an article in Inc., along with my running comments:

  1. Make Good Friends.  I read years and years ago in a helpful little book called, The Friendship Factor, that a person’s degree of happiness in life is most closely tied to the quality of their relationships.  If you don’t have them, build them. If you are not sure how, reread AI’s blog entry on Interpersonal Relationships and their importance in EQ.
  2. Actively Express Thankfulness.  Expressing thankfulness to others increases both your happiness and their happiness.  In addition, a recent study found that people who wrote down five things they were thankful for once/week were twenty five percent happier after ten weeks.
  3. Actively Pursue Your Goals.  People who can identify a goal they are actively pursuing are nineteen percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and twenty six percent more likely to feel good about themselves.  But, be careful.  Ambition without thankfulness and contentment can put us on a treadmill, pursuing endless goals while never stopping to appreciate what we have achieved.  You can imagine that a healthy level of reality testing (discussed in last blog entry) can help us discern what is healthy ambition vs blind, out of control ambition. One will lead to happiness, the other makes happiness forever elusive.
  4. Do What You Excel at as Often as You Can.  In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor says that when volunteers picked, “one of their signature strengths and used it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier.”  In order to do this, of course, you must have a healthy self-awareness (another important EQ quality). Discover what you are good at and use that strength.
  5. Give.  Providing support for others may make us happier than receiving support.  As we give our lives away we actually find the life we have always wanted.  Find a way to use your strengths or resources to benefit others. You will be happier if you do.
  6. Don’t Single-Mindedly chase “Stuff.”  Once above the poverty level, a person’s degree of happiness is not significantly affected by income (see image).  Between the 1960s and 1990s in the USA, incomes doubled, yet those who said they were happy with their life remained the same: roughly thirty percent.  In reality,chasing possessions tends to make us less happy.happiness and income
  7. Live the Life You Want to Live.   One woman who works with patients who have only a few months to live says they often divulge one regret: they say, “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

To find further tools for assessing your own happiness and additional resources, open this document

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